Monday, October 16, 2017

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary: Celia Baer on Bereisheet

Shabbat Shalom!
Becoming a Bat Mitzvah means a lot of things – but most of all, it means that on some level you’ve grown up.
I must say, I do feel older.  I feel like I’ve grown up a lot this year.  For one thing, we got Bazzle, our white and fluffy Bichon, a little more than a year ago.  For those who have never met him, I’ll just say, he’s really cute!
Over the course of this year, I’ve became a real caregiver for him.  I love to walk him and he loves to play with me – he runs around the family room table and I try to catch him.  We’re teaching him how to fetch.  Right now, he’s still at the “grab it and run” phase. 
Bazzle’s also gotten sick at times and we’ve had to care for him.  I have lots of stuffed animals – but Bazzle was a real step up from Winnie the Pooh, and he’s taught me a lot about responsibility. And when mom asks one of us to walk him, I’m usually the first one to say yes.
I must admit, from early childhood, I’ve grown up pretty fast. My parents tell me that I walked really early – at nine months, which meant I was quite a handful.  And before that, I figured out how to crawl out of my crib.  I cut my first tooth at three months and had a mouthful of teeth before one.
So now I’m becoming a Bat Mitzvah at 12, which is younger than some girls and all boys - and from looking at my portion, it led me to wonder if kids are growing up too fast these days.
In my portion of Beraysheet, Adam and Eve really grow up fast.  They were born as adults, after all – but even so they really did some childish things.   They were fooled into eating the forbidden fruit – and by the way, the way to get kids to do something is tell them NOT to do it.   That topic came up a few weeks ago in a class when we were talking about how we shouldn’t look directly at the eclipse.  Fortunately, everyone in my class is mature enough not to have ignored that advice.
The mistake that Adam and Eve made was not just that they disobeyed God’s command, but that they did not take responsibility for their actions. And because of that, they were sent out of the garden.  Then they really did have to grow up fast.
But I don’t think they had to grow as quickly as kids to today.  I asked my mom about it and she said, having cell phones has made it much easier for kids to get information very quickly.  I agree, and also, being able to text friends all the time increases the chances of miscommunication.  For instance, it’s hard to convey in a text that you are being sarcastic or just trying to be funny.  Someone might say in a text, “Oh I hate you so much” as a joke but the other person might take it seriously.  This can cause problems – and it’s problems like these that force you to grow up really fast.  It’s happened to me a few times.  But fortunately, things have worked out in the end.
For my bat mitzvah project, I have chosen to work with ABILIS.  Abilis is a non-profit organization that provides assistance to adults and children with developmental disabilities.  I am collecting puzzles, toys, books and other items for their birth to 3 program for disadvantaged families.  As part of my hands on experience, I am volunteering in a music class for young adults.  In class I help the teacher keep the class motivated and happy.  We play instruments, sing songs and dance.  This experience has taught me that even though we are different, we can still be friends and learn from one another.
So now that I am a Bat Mitzvah, I know that growing up is nothing to be afraid of, even if it happens very quickly.  But the key to it all is to take responsibility for what we do.  That’s what Bar or Bat Mitzvah means.  While the word bar or bat literally means son or daughter, it really means “responsible for.”  Traditionally over the centuries, at this occasion parents would say a special blessing, thanking God for releasing them from responsibility for their child.  Back in those days, kids really had to grow up fast.  In the end, I don’t think it’s too fast or too slow. I think the pace of growing up for me… is just right!

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